Is this prequel to Lost Planet positively worth the purchase, or should Capcom put a freeze on this series?
(This is a review of only the campaign of Lost Planet 3)
E.D.N III, a fictional planet full of energy waiting to be harnessed and giant creatures willing to defend their lives for it. Unfortunately for them planet Earth and its inhabitants have come to extend their existence and it’s up to NEVEC (Neo-Venus Construction company) and freelancer Jim Peyton to do what they do best: harvest minerals and resources. Does that plot sound rather familiar? Anyone who has seen 2010’s Avatar (the bad one, the James Cameron one) should recognize a similar plot strand here. That’s because it is practically the same idea as Avatar…or Pocahontas…or Dances with Wolves. Name any ‘a foreigner is introduced to a foreign territory and learns the other side of the story’ plot device, and you have Lost Planet 3. Is that bad? No, not really, because the team over at Spark Unlimited have interesting enough characters and minor twists to the formula to help the plot move along fairly well and nicely.
With a length of about 12-15 hours, Lost Planet 3 is a flashback journey of Jim Peyton dying to tell his story of being a man tasked to take a job to provide for his wife and newborn son. Separated by planets, small video logs tell their distant love and struggles, with Peyton reassuring his wife that he’ll be okay and he’ll be back soon. Unfortunately, passage of time is hard to tell in Lost Planet 3. Some video logs seem to talk of months and then a year passing by as Jim and Grace share stories. Fortunately, Peyton is a likable character that will do anything asked of him. Well, to an extent. He’s not naïve or anything, but he is on E.D.N. III to do a job. As the plot thickens, as it were, Peyton learns so much more than he anticipated and so does the rest of the crew.
The crew is surprisingly full of life and character one wouldn’t usually expect from a game like this. You grow to care and hate some, hate and care for others. It’s a diverse enough bag to warrant learning who has your back in a fight. The Rig engineer Gale is likely a breakout star in Lost Planet 3. Despite his young age, he’s not the average cocky youngster anticipated to die by the end. He’s aware and always thinking two steps ahead, helping Peyton brace what the planet has to offer. A few other crewmembers that will be withheld to avoid too much spoiler talk are also standouts by endgame and worthy of memory. Going in to a game like Lost Planet 3, you just expect every single character to be a tired archetype that you can’t bring yourself to worry about. That’s simply not true here. You want to learn and experience more with every presented character and less time wandering the wasteland fighting creatures. Not that that’s not fun or anything…
NEVEC ensures you’re safe for your journey, and luckily Peyton’s not without defenses as he’s got the standard armory of weapons at his disposal. Shotgun, pistols, assault rifles; they’re all here and will help defend you in the blistering cold as the planet’s inhabitants put up a worthy fight. From the smallest Akrid called Tarkaa, to the giant, lumbering crab Akrid, E.D.N. III will test your mettle as you aim for the glowing weak spots that return for Lost Planet 3. If fighting a giant crab with your guns isn’t enough for you, you’ll always have access to your Rig to climb in and devastate. Don’t expect massive weaponry onboard though. Your Rig is simply an exploratory and construction tool. Aside from a drill and welding torch attached later, you won’t be dropping massive caliber shells from the cockpit, just punching and drilling foes in their glowing rumps. It works though, so worry not. Just don’t expect later human enemies to prove much a battle. Most go down in 3 shots and rarely use cover or run to new cover. They’re simply targets awaiting your bullets to enter their bodies. It’s a bit of a drag during the climactic portions.
Exploring E.D.N. III is a bit of a pain during the opening hours though. Your Rig is slow and walking on-foot is rarely advised. The areas are so big that it takes too long to reach destinations, but you soon earn a fast travel option and it’s immensely helpful. On-foot, Peyton has his tried-and-true upgradable grappling hook to latch onto ledges and pull himself up or lower himself into other areas. Again, he’s a freelance worker, so don’t expect him to be nimbly bouncing about. Plus, he’s in unlivable conditions too, so he’s limited in a lot of actions as far as ‘being a badass’ in combat. Your trusty roll will be helpful than you’d think though, so, cherish it! There is a lot of backtracking, but the aforementioned fast travel option makes Rig travel a breeze, and speeds up later game segments.
Lost Planet 3 is a game that seemed destined to simply ‘release in stores’ and fall into the bargain bin. It’s a surprisingly story that you’ve likely already experienced, but tweaked enough and filled with enough character likability to forgive its familiar setting. The later climax leaves us left wanting, and some early moments in the Rig are rather infuriating, but most of what’s found below Lost Planet 3’s surface is likable and recommended for a good weekend of gaming. Jim Peyton’s story of E.D.N. III is not one to be missed, and one of the most interesting, if not rather predictable, stories of the summer.